was beckoning us to leave so soon. We’d spent less than 20 minutes at Cruz del Condor, a popular tourist stop on the southern rim of Peru’s rugged Colca Canyon, watching a breathtaking display of more than a dozen Andean condors swirling and swooping overhead. Yes, we were packed on to the vantage point like battery hens, but surely we could spend a few more minutes savouring the moment?
‘‘I have something else to show you,’’ he said, with a knowing grin, before driving us farther along the canyon to a completely secluded lookout with a pop-up champagne breakfast bar and private chef on standby. ‘‘This is our version of luxury in the wilderness,’’ said Mariano Takinami, our tour host and general manager of Las Casitas del Colca, a small and exclusive lodge near the gateway to the canyon.
As we tucked into flutes of fizz, scrambled eggs and rich Peruvian coffee, three magnificent condors swooped up from the canyon below and put on a show just for us. Pure magic. More: lascasitasdelcolca.com.
The horizon hovering over this surreal alternative universe has just begun to blush when we rise from chic tents at San Camp, tuck into oven-warm poppyseed muffins and tea and venture into the Kalahari Desert. Soon we’re trotting behind a clan of meerkats as they forage furiously for grubs. This is the only wild population in the world habituated to the presence of humans — in fact, they are so unfazed that they climb atop our heads for a superior vantage point. Later, we hare across the crunchy salt pan on quad bikes, laughing, exhilarated by the unnerving embrace of nothingness. But what’s that smudge on the horizon? In the middle of nowhere and nothing, staff from San Camp have deposited an icebox and a heavy wooden chest that unfolds to reveal the best-stocked pop-up bar in Africa. I raise a martini glass to the meerkats. More: classicsafaricompany.com.au.
If there is one thing that destroys luxury with a swift blow, it is a queue. What is worth shuffling a grey line for, apart from, perhaps, the Egyptian pyramids and the Taj Mahal, and yes, of course, the Sistine Chapel. For one look at that ceiling, I would gladly suffer the interminable queue, and then, once inside, the mandatory anaconda crush as a thousand strangers squeeze in. However, on one occasion I breezed into the Sistine Chapel on a VIP Vatican Tour and, bar nine others, had it all to myself. I could have run up and down or slid about in my socks; and I would have done exactly that were I not fixed to the floor, gazing up at God in the seconds before he created Adam. Nobody touched me, nobody breathed near me, nobody whispered. That golden solitude transcended luxury; they were 30 of the most privileged minutes of mylife. More: darkrome.com.
Tea Trails is a linked accommodation circuit devised by Dilmah in the highlands of Sri Lanka; there are four classic colonial bungalows, wonderful service from resident staff and, of course, fine cuppas in abundance. More: wildlifesafari.com.au.
What could be more luxurious than an exclusive plunge pool; butler, chef and driver on 24-hour call; and a sense of interrupted seclusion? Yours at the honeymoon haven of Sungai Gold, a private villa in the Balinese village of Cepaka; next door is the threebedroom Sungai, ideal for house parties. More: bali-villasungai.com.
Aboard the glam liner Seabourn Odyssey, buy a Thermal Suite day pass for Spa at Seabourn to lie on warm tiled couches and cushioned waterbeds and to try the dipping pool, sauna, steam room, monsoon showers and outdoor hot tubs. More: seabourn.com.
On the new Royal Princess (T&I, June 22-23), book a poolside cabana in the adults-only Sanctuary on deck 17 and snooze or order sunny-coloured drinks between pampering spa treatments. More: princess.com.
While not an ultra-luxe abode, you’d go a long way to feel more genuinely looked-after than at Reggie Singh’s rather quirky heritage hotel, Chapslee Palace, in the Indian hill station of Shimla. More: chapslee.com.
A small-scale mobile safari with Botswana-based Uncharted Africa promises flexibility, great style and comfort, and wildlife almost on call. More: classicsafaricompany.com.au.
The Peninsula Hong Kong has a Fly & Dine experience that includes a swooping chopper tour of the territory combined with lunch or dinner at this grand-dame hotel, which turns 85 this year. More: peninsula.com.
Just 34 fishing fanatics and fresh-air devotees at a time get to hole up at King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia, Canada; this pop-up hotel (from June to September) is anchored at Barnard Harbour on Princess Royal Island and surrounded by the largest tract of intact (bear-dwelling) temperate rainforest on earth. More: kingpacificlodge.com.
A stay at Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma adjoining Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park gives you the racing Zambezi River virtually on the doorstep of your bush villa, the roaring Victoria Falls down the road and access to a reserve with protected white rhino. More: abercrombiekent.com.au.
A Bellini of prosecco and fresh white peaches at Venice’s Cipriani is a bucketlist essential. More: orient-express.com.
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A Tea Trails bungalow in Sri Lanka